During His human existence, Jesus Christ was not a wealthy man, although He was not destitute either. In the first 30 years of His life, when He worked with Joseph as a builder, He no doubt earned a fairly good living. Nor was He homeless. Along with the family home at Nazareth, many believe that He also owned His home in Capernaum, which He had possibly built Himself. His famous, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but The Son of man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matthew 8:20 RSV) was spoken on the road, after His ministry had begun.
Jesus did however become poor, twice over. First, in His going from The Logos of God (God being the owner of all of the wealth in the universe) to a mere human, and then from a working carpenter to a full-time unpaid "minister." This verse could apply to either: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9 RSV)
God is not against making money for a living and for helping those in need, but He condemns the love of money, whereby it becomes an all-consuming obstacle to obedience and service to Him. Jesus, and every one of the apostles who were called into God's service, did not start out poor (they were carpenters, fishermen, tax collectors, tent makers etc.), but they ended up that way because they gave nearly all of their time, and all of themselves, in the service of true wealth:
Fact Finder: Should Christians work to store up "treasures in heaven"? Why?
- "For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?" (Matthew 16:25-26 RSV)
- "As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." (Matthew 13:22 RSV)
- "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13 RSV)
- "Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
"When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions."
"And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
"When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"
"But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Then Peter said in reply, "Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?"
"Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for My Name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life." (Matthew 19:21-29 RSV)
- "And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep." (Luke 6:20-25 RSV)
- "We put no obstacle in any one's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (2 Corinthians 6:3-10 RSV)
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